Category Archives: In the Press

The Save St Abbs Lifeboat campaign in the press.

St Abbs Lifeboat presented with EBDA Award

We are delighted to announce that St Abbs Lifeboat has been awarded the Eastern Borders Development Association award for 2016.

awardAlistair Crowe accepts the award from Lord Lietenant Jeanna Swan.

“The Eastern Borders Development Association (EBDA) Award is made annually by the Trustees to a person or organisation who or which, through skill or effort, has made an outstanding contribution in social, economic or environmental fields in the past 12 months”

At a special 40th anniversary reception on the 6th March 2017, five members of our committee were presented with the award by the Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire Jeanna Swan, in front of a specially invited audience which included previous award winners, local dignitaries and councillors from both the Scottish Borders  and Northumberland County councils.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our local Councillor Jim Fullarton for our nomination, and also EBDA and its Trustees for awarding us this prestigious prize.

We have begun to raise funds for a new St Abbs Lifeboat

The village Community of St Abbs, Berwickshire has now formally agreed to launch a funding appeal in order to operate an independent Lifeboat Station at St Abbs.

At a packed meeting held on September 13th 2015, all attending voted unanimously in favour of the project which has initially been named St Abbs Lifeboat.

St Abbs Community Trust is a registered charity no SCO22555 and St Abbs Lifeboat will initially operate under the auspices of the Community Trust to take advantage of existing charitable status so that fundraising can commence as soon as possible through our established a JustGiving page:

In parallel with this Appeal, Smiths Grant, Solicitors, Duns have generously offered to carry out the considerable legal work necessary to set up the new Charitable Trust, free of charge. This Trust would take over and operate the existing lifeboat station at St Abbs. Smiths Grant have already commenced work.

There is no shortage of suitable experienced prospective Trustees, but the timetable for establishing a lifeboat station is very dependent on a number of factors including discussions between the RNLI and St Abbs Harbour Trust, relating to the existing lease which has yet to be relinquished by the RNLI.

St Abbs Lifeboat will also immediately commence discussions with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ensure future compliance with the MCA’s Rescue Boat Code.

The St Abbs Lifeboat campaign is now fully operational and its activities are currently being coordinated by Alistair Crowe and Euan Gibson, ably supported by a dedicated and committed team of local volunteers. Alistair Crowe latterly held the position of Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) during the RNLI years, and has 50 years of experience and service to the Institute. His family along with other St Abbs and local families have been the backbone of the St Abbs Lifeboat for generations.

Euan Gibson recently coordinated the highly visible campaign to save the station. The re-establishment of St Abbs Lifeboat is not only a logical extension to this it is also a direct reflection of the massive support received during that campaign.

In announcing the launch of the funding Appeal today, Alistair Crowe said:

“We are delighted to have been able to launch this independent appeal so quickly. Our job as a lifeboat crew is to continue to save lives on this coast. A lifeboat at St Abbs is not a luxury it is an essential public safety requirement given the growth in leisure activities and the natural geography of the coastline. For anyone in trouble at sea it is not about the flag on the boat, it is all about the skill and knowledge of the crew. This is a dramatic and treacherous stretch of coast on a big arc at the southern approach to the Firth of Forth. To a seafarer that means it is exposed to weather and tides from the West all the way round to the South. The combined effect of tides and weather round any exposed headland are potentially dangerous, and St Abbs Head is no different.

The area has been one of the top UK dive sites for decades, and there is a lot of growth now from sea kayakers, surfers and sea anglers as well. Plus we have seen an increase over the last few years in local fishing boats operating out of St Abbs Harbour. The track record of St Abbs Lifeboat station and the commitment of its volunteers over its 104 year history speaks for itself. We feel responsible for everyone who uses the sea around our village and we want to be able to keep on doing what we’ve been doing for generations and keep the lifeboat running. We have a very detailed record of much of this history, and have plans to place some of this in the public domain.”

Commenting further, Euan Gibson said:

“The fact that St Abbs has one of the most professional crews in the UK is a long established fact.

That same spirit exists throughout the village as the Sea and Land at St Abbs are intrinsically linked. We have also been quite taken aback and humbled by the widespread support we received during the campaign. Our petition to the RNLI had over 13,000 signatures from both within the UK and from over 40 countries all over the World. The campaign was also supported by the Scottish and British Sub Aqua Clubs among others.

We are delighted today to announce the commencement of fundraising both online and through established channels. We hope that anyone who supports the work of volunteer lifeboat crews will give us their support.

In terms of application of the Appeal proceeds, in outline I can tell you that we currently estimate that approximately £250,000 should be allocated to the boat and related crew and medical equipment, and that a further £250,000 should be raised initially towards liquid funds. The appeal will also remain open for ad hoc and regular subscription in keeping with charitable practice for lifeboats in the UK.

We will maintain a flexible stance towards funding and plan to make full use of modern technology, social media etc. to ensure that we have as wide a base of support as possible. The lifeboat is there for anyone who needs it and we welcome any donation, large or small.”

In closing Alistair Crowe added

“We hope the Public will support the Appeal for an independent lifeboat at St Abbs. The DNA of any lifeboat service anywhere in the World is the crews, both men and women, who volunteer to go out the boats.

We are extremely proud as a village to have served under the RNLI for 104 years. They may have left, but our work continues as it the sea which is both master and mistress round here not any particular flag.

In the UK many services rely entirely on public donations and we hope you will support us.”

You can help us right now by making a donation online.


“RNLI urged to reverse plan to close Scottish lifeboat station” article in the Financial Times

The Financial Times has published an article today (21st August 2015) by journalist Emily Cadman, titled “RNLI urged to reverse plan to close Scottish lifeboat station”.

Ewan Gibson, a local resident leading the campaign to save the lifeboat, says there is “bewilderment, real genuine anger . . . a sense of betrayal” at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s decision to shut the station. – Words of Euan Gibson quoted from the article.

You can read the article here:

“10,000 supporters implore: keep St Abbs lifeboat station open” article in The Times

The Times has published a two page article today (21st August 2015) by journalist Kenny Farquharson, titled “10,000 supporters implore: keep St Abbs lifeboat station open”.

We’ve tried to be as positive as possible, because our goal is to stay under the umbrella of the RNLI,” Mr Gibson says. ”We’ve saved four lives since the closure was announced in May. You’ve seen the letter. She [Mr Jeffery’s friend) would not be here today were it not for the quick response of these guys. They were out in four minutes. “We’re going to stay optimistic right to the very end. If they’re going to close us, we need to be able to stand up on that brae above the harbour after September 8 and know with a clear conscience that we fought as hard as we
possibly could.” – Words of Euan Gibson quoted from the Article.

Times Article 2If you have a subscription to The Times you can read the article here:


St Abbs Lifeboat – The Heart of our Community

DSC_9854Award winning journalist, Ian Bell, as written an excellent article in the Herald.

We were particularly struck by this extract….

“The question of what makes – or breaks – a community is never simple. What looks small enough from the outside is big and fundamental if it’s part of who you are.

Where St Abbs is concerned, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has overlooked that fact. It counts as irony. The RNLI depends as much as any charity on communities and their sense of themselves. Communities provide the volunteers for its 235 stations and its 346 lifeboats. Communities dig deep, year upon year, to provide the money – £51.15 million according to the 2013 annual report – to support the RNLI and ensure that crews have the gear they need.

From that attitude comes an ethos. The ethos brought the institution £118.75 million in legacies at the last count. Without communities, without what they are prepared to risk, sacrifice and spend, the RNLI wouldn’t amount to much. The organisation knows this, counts on it, boasts of it. The mistake it is about to make at St Abbs flies in the face of the RNLI’s traditions. Locals believe it also defies reason. And they call it a betrayal.”


Well said Ian ,we couldn’t agree more. Community is the foundation upon which the RNLI is built. It’s not too late for the RNLI exective to remember that the  organisation they run relies on similar communities to ours all around the coast of these British Isles.

You can read the full article here:

Hundreds Join Protest March

JohnlamontThank you to everyone who joined the protest march on 4th July 2015. All together there were about 300 people who joined the march including community safety minister and MSP Paul Wheelhouse, MSP John Lamont and MP Calum Kerr.

Thanks also to Micheal Wilson for leading the march playing the pipes.

ITV Reporter, Jenny Longden,  was there to report on the day. You can watch her report here:

The National Newpaper, Berwickshire News and BBC also reported the march.

£1.5 Million to move a few bolts?

On the 30th June 2015 “The National” (Scottish Newspaper) published an article titled: “Saving St Abbs lifeboat station would not cost £1.5m, insist crew” by Janice Burns.

The article explains that the RNLI PR department has changed its message about the proposed closure of the St Abbs Lifeboat Station being for solely “Operational Reasons” and not financial, to suggest that it would cost in excess of £1.5 Million to upgrade the station to host the new Atlantic 85.

boltsThe St Abbs Lifeboat Station unwent a major refurbishment several years ago with new facilities and cradle being installed. This cradle holds the current Atlantic 75 lifeboat, but is designed to be made wider for a new Atlantic 85 by moving a few bolts.

As regards the cost of the new Atlantic 85 “Dorothy and Katherine Barr III” this has already been financed for by the Barr Trust which has financed the last two lifeboats to be based at St Abbs.

So we reject entirely that it would cost £1.5 million to prepare the station for an Atlantic 85.

Saving lives at sea is dependent on a  quick response time.  So while the St Abbs Lifeboat Station may not have gold plated taps it is the right lifeboat, in the right location, with a crew who have the local knowledge needed to make a real difference.

We need your support to help Save St Abbs Lifeboat. Click here to find out how you can help.

You can read the National article “Saving St Abbs lifeboat station would not cost £1.5m, insist crew”” by Janice Burns here:

Don’t let this be Our Swan Song

This Saturday (27/6/2015) the Scotsman published a two page article titled: “Swan song for St Abbs lifeboat station” by Ben Nimmo. The article was about the proposed closure of the station and the recent rescue of Marion McFarlane.

“I was about 13 metres down. I tried to breathe, and suddenly there was no air from my regulator. I tried my octopus (reserve) and that wasn’t working either,” she says on the phone from Fife, a few days after being discharged from hospital.

It is every diver’s nightmare. Underwater, your air supply is your life, and it’s not until it stops that you realise how deep 13 metres really is.

“I had no choice but to fin up,” she says. “I hit the surface and tried to breathe in, but I must have got water in my lungs already. Then I passed out.”– Quote from Article

When you reach the surface after an accident like this a quick response by a lifeboat is crucial.  We known that the D-Class based in Eyemouth will add at least 10 minutes to the response time. In the case of Marion McFarlane those extra 10 minutes could have resulted in a very different outcome.

“What we’re looking to do is reduce risk, not create a situation where there’s more. We don’t think this change will lead to loss of life.”  – George Rawlingson, Operations Director RNLI

The best that the RNLI executive can say is that they don’t think the closing of the St Abb Lifeboat will lead to loss of life. Sadly, we know it will. If our lifeboat station had been closed a few months ago, Marion McFarlane may have been the first victim of this ill-thought-out decision.

To ensure that this rescue wasn’t our Swan Song, we need your support. Click here to find out how you can help.

You can read the Scotsman article “Swan song for St Abbs lifeboat station” by Ben Nimmo here: